Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Door: 6:30 | Show: 7pm
@ Squeaky Wheel
$7 General | Free for members
Opening the fall series OTHERWORLDS, this program of shorts is united by earthly follies and a desire to conquer the stars. A portrait of worldly madness, galactic tedium, and the ambitions and failures of the 20th Century emerge. Featuring Peggy Ahwesh’s Heaven’s Gate (2000), Max Almy’s Leaving the 20th Century (1987), Frances Bodomo’s Afronauts (2014), Chema García Ibarra’s Protoparticles (2011), Michael Robinson’s Victory Over the Sun (2007), and the 1924 Soviet Animation Interplanetary Revolution. Curated by Ekrem Serdar. Special thanks to Jon Dieringer, David Dinnell, Electronic Arts Intermix (EAI), and the artists.
Giving the screening its name, Michael Robinson’s Victory Over the Sun combines footage of abandoned and ignored monuments with a extended wormhole sequence featuring the power of both Ayn Rand and Skeletor. We return to earth, but our heavenly desires remain with Peggy Ahwesh’s Heaven’s Gate. Named after a cult that believed in extraterrestrial contact, and which committed mass suicide in 1997, Ahwesh uses words found on the groups website to create a portrait of both paranoia and hope. Contact is made in the 1924 USSR animation Interplanetary Revolution, where comrade Coninternov flies to Mars to vanquish capitalists, in a film where revolutionary fervor and an enthusiasm for the possibilities of animation take over any attempt at narrative cohesion. A different kind of communicative collapse happens in Max Almy’s Leaving the 20th Century, as Almy’s characters depart our earthly foils to a fetishized techno-void. Chema García Ibarra’s Protoparticles depicts an astronaut that had participated in an experiment that has radically changed his body, as the film shows the man in a spacesuit participating in daily earthly life, a terrible secret hidden behind the helmet. Finally, Frances Bodomo’s Afronauts, based on true events, charts a small group in Zambia as they try to beat the US in the space-race to the moon. The race, like many of the failures of our push to the future, has its own sacrifices.- ES
Program (55 minutes)
Victory Over the Sun
13 min, digital, sound, USA, 2007
Dormant sites of past World’s Fairs breed an eruptive struggle between spirit and matter, ego and industry, futurism and failure. For thine is the kingdom and the power and glory; nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain. – MR
4 min, digital , sound, USA, 2000
With Heaven’s Gate, Ahwesh employs a strategy similar to that used in 73 Suspect Words: against a blank screen, a metronomic procession of single words unfolds, gradually building into a cool, minimal portrait of the apocalyptic paranoia that runs through the American social body. While 73 Suspect Words appropriated text from the writings of Theodore Kaczynski, aka the “Unabomber,” Heaven’s Gate takes up words from the Web site of the cult organization of that name, whose beliefs in extraterrestrial contact led to their 1997 mass suicide. – via EAI
Nikolai Khodataev, Zenon Komisarenko, and Yuri Merkulov
7 min, sd video, sound, USSR, 1924
“‘Warriors of the Revolution: Save Martian Workers Enslaved by Capitalism!’ With that we’re launched into an exotic blend of Bolshevik ideology and H.G. Wells science fiction, made in the forward-looking year of Lenin’s death. The film’s futurist collage generates a riot of geometric forms and political symbols as well as a pretty nifty ray gun fight. – via Fandor
Leaving the 20th Century
11 min, digital, sound, USA, 1987
Leaving the 20th Century is a compelling science fiction narrative of televisual time-travel via the electronic circuit and computer chip. Almy dramatizes a three-part transition—countdown, departure, arrival—to a technological future, foreclosed and dehumanized. The stylized visuals and ironic humor (“She left because there was nothing good on television…”) belie the poignancy of Almy’s vision. Applying computer graphics and digital effects to critique the manipulative, mediating effects of technology, Almy simulates the hyper-reality of a futuristic “landscape with no detail or points of reference,” a space without perspective or point of view. No longer seduced by television or spectacle, the subjects depart and are transported as objects, arriving at a place where human relations and communication fail, transmission is terminated, the message is not received. – via EAI
Chema García Ibarra
7 min, digital, sound, Spain, 2011
The experiment was a succes: protomatter exists.
13min, digital, sound, USA, 2014
July 1969. It’s the night of the moon landing and a rag-tag group of Zambian exiles are trying to beat America to the Moon.
Inspired by true events, Afronauts tells an alternative history of the 1960s Space Race. It’s the night of July 16th 1969 and, as America prepares to send Apollo 11 to the moon, a group of exiles in the Zambian desert are rushing to launch their rocket first. They train by rolling their astronaut, 17-year-old Matha Mwamba, down hills in barrels to simulate weightlessness. As the clock counts down to blast off, as the Bantu-7 Rocket looks more and more lopsided, Matha must decide if she’s willing to die to keep her family’s myths alive. Afronauts follows the scientific zeitgeist from the perspective of those who do not have access to it.